Maui waterman Kai Lenny is only 24 years old. In his short time on Earth he has won multiple SUP, kitesurfing and windsurfing world titles and been a runner-up in the MolokaI 2 Oahu Paddleboard Race. Additionally, he has made a name for himself as a big-wave surfer and hydrofoil pioneer.
Part human, part saltwater, part wind and part surfing superhero, Kai Lenny continues to blow our mind. Here are five examples.
Hydrofoil river surfing
Lenny has pioneered and perfected the use of the hydrofoil. It was a logical step, then — well, logical if you are Kai Lenny — to take his contraption to Idaho’s Lochsa River to take on its standing waves.
Predictably, Lenny was quite enthusiastic. “There is such a huge potential for hydrofoil surfing in rivers,” he posted on Instagram. “The standing waves that you just can’t quite surf for their lack of steepness will be perfect for it. After my first experience doing it, I’m amped to come back with a modified design and see where I can take it!”
Stay tuned, folks. Lenny isn’t finished with this one.
Tackling power lines
It seems not even Kai Lenny has the superpowers to deal with overhead power lines. When kitesurfing the Yellowstone River recently (and no, we don’t know why either), Lenny’s kite became tangled in power lines that crossed the river. That meant an abrupt loss of speed and an enforced swim in the cold water.
Rumors that Lenny has used the incident as inspiration to make a mains-powered kiteboard have so far been proven unfounded.
Inventing the boogie foil
Faced with the tough luck of a broken ankle and a lengthy stretch of time unable to stand up on any of the 27 different watercraft he rides daily, Lenny did what most of us do. Nope, he didn’t hit the couch and watch football for two months, but instead invented the Boogie Foil.
This was a standard bodyboard bolted onto a hydrofoil, which allowed him to ride unbroken waves on his stomach, a foot above the ocean. “This is so much fun, I might do it when my ankle is better,” he said in the video of his exploits. No doubt on a 50-foot wave at Jaws, backwards.
Cruising 50 miles via hydrofoil
Lenny has already standup paddled, kayaked and ridden a turtle between the Big Island of Hawaii and Maui, so he needed a new challenge. In March, he made the crossing on his hydrofoil.
That’s a distance of some 50 miles, which he described as “the longest hydrofoil downwinder I’ve done so far, with the longest swells I’ve ridden so far.” It’s a fair bet to say that no one has ever ridden a hydrofoil farther.
Pushing the possibilities of big-wave surfing
Every now and again, Lenny feels like operating under his own steam. He will ditch the kites, paddles and foils and simply go surfing, paddling into waves with his very own arms. It just so happens that some of these waves happen to be the biggest on the planet.
In the infamous El Nino winter of 2015-16, across 50 sessions at Jaws, Mavericks and Waimea, Lenny placed himself at the forefront of big-wave surfing. “The perspective and understanding you get from surfing a giant wave, the understanding of speed, power and flow, it will transcend the whole sport,” he once told GrindTV.
“How did I end up in this position of not only witnessing it, but participating in it? What a time to be alive on Maui. We have the most badass wave in our backyard and things [that] weren’t in the realm of possibility are right here, right now.”
Check out even more jaw-dropping ocean feats on GrindTV